Japanese festivals called “Matsuri” in Japanese were originally deeply elated to agriculture and life of people. They thanked and prayed for an abundant hearvests. Nowadays, many of festivals are being held for tourists attractions and aim to revitalization of local communities.
There are no specific matsuri days for all of Japan, but festival days do tend to cluster around traditional holidays such as Setsubun or Obon. Almost every locale has at least one matsuri in late summer/early autumn.
Events within festivalsFestivals are often based around one event, with food stalls,such as takoyaki(octpus dumpring) entertainment, and carnival games such as Goldfish scooping to keep people entertained. Some are based around temples or shrines, others hanabi (fireworks),
Notable matsuri often feature processions which may include elaborate floats. Preparation for these processions is usually organised at the level of neighborhoods. Prior to these, the local kami(diety) may be ritually installed in mikoshi(portable shrine) and paraded through the streets.
Famous matsuriFavorite elements of the some most popular matsuri are often broadcast on television for the entire nation to enjoy.
Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido)
Sapporo Yuki Matsuri is one of the largest festivals of the year in Sapporo, held in February for one week. It began in 1950 when high school students built snow statues in Odori Park, central Sapporo. The event is now very large and commercialized. About a dozen large sculptures are built for the festival along with around 100 smaller snow and ice sculptures.
Aomori Nebuta Festival
This festival is held annually and features colorful lantern floats called nebuta which are pulled through the streets of Central Aomori. This festival is held from about August 2–7 every year. This event attracts millions of visitors. During this festival, 20 large nebuta floats are paraded through the streets near Aomori JR rail station. These floats are constructed of wooden bases and metal frames. Japanese papers, called washi, are painted onto the frames. These amazing floats are finished off with the historical figures or kabuki being painted on the paper. These floats can take up to a year to complete. There is a dance portion of this festival. There are haneto dancers and they wear special costumes for this dance. Everyone is welcome to purchase their own haneto costume that they may too join in on the fun.
Hadaka MatsuriThe origins of Hadaka Matsuri date back 500 years when worshippers competed to receive paper talismans called Go-o thrown by the priest. These paper talismans were tokens of the completion of New Year ascetic training by the priests. As those people receiving these paper talismans had good things happen to them, the number of people requesting them increased year by year. However, as paper is easily destroyed, the talismans were changed to the wooden ofuda that we know today.
Naoi-shinji, also known as “Hadaka Matsuri (naked festival)”, started in the year 767 AD, the Nara Period. This right was founded on the fact that the governor of Owari Province (presently Aichi Prefecture) visited the Owari Shosha Shrine (Konomiya shrine) to drive away evil spirits and calamities, because Emperor Shotoku ordered all the kokubun-ji(provincial temples)to offer invocations to dispel plagues.
It is said that the form of the festival, a struggle to touch the Naoinin or Shin-otoko (man of god), is reminiscent of the struggle in old times between the assemblage of lower-ranking Shinto priests called shanin and contributors tried to catch and set up a man for naoinin (shin-otoko), an unlucky poor man, who was unwilling to take the role.
Japanese festivals called “Matsuri” in Japanese were originally deeply elated to agriculture and life of people. They thanked and prayed for an abundant hearvests.
Festivals are often based around one event, with food stalls,such as takoyaki(octpus dumpring) entertainment, and carnival games such as Goldfish scooping to keep people entertained. Some are based around temples or shrines, others hanabi (fireworks),